Teaching and Learning Resources by Peter Pappas

Pompeii: Documenting a Disaster

800px-Karl_Brullov_-_The_Last_Day_of_Pompeii_-_Google_Art_ProjectMy Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland recently published a free multi-touch iBook – Exploring History: Vol III (free iTunes). It features thirteen engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. For more info on our project and free download of multi-touch iBook and pdf versions click here. To better publicize student work, I’m featuring each chapter in it’s own blog post. (Eighth of 13)

Pompeii by Caleb Wilson
Download as 1MB pdf

In 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius erupted burying the vibrant Roman city of Pompeii, and many of its citizens beneath tons of volcanic ash. The City of Pompeii was an ancient Roman town near modern day Naples. The following documents are primary sources related to that event. As you analyze and examine each document consider the source and time period of its creation. I want students to use inference from the documents to determine details of the source event, and use evidence to support those determinations.

Reflection by Caleb Wilson

For my DBL I designed a lesson that addresses the disaster that happened in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Since I am not placed in a history class at the moment I wanted to design my lesson to flow with any history or social studies class that would be studying ancient civilizations or natural disasters. I wanted an interesting lesson that offered a wide range of documents that would allow students to engage fully into the lesson regardless of needs.

Designing a Document Based Lesson, or DBL, has been a great experience. I learned the importance of creating a generative question that serves as a guide for student learning. The hard part was finding documents that best fit this question. I wanted to show the students how devastating the event was and how important it is to look at a variety of sources that are out there. This also puts students into the place of the researcher as they see the evidence that modern historians were faced with in their attempt to understand the catastrophic event.

I struggled with what sources I should attach to this DBL. I wanted a first hand experience of the events along with some “modern” photographs. The hard part for me was finding what photographs I would provide the students for the DBL. There are a lot of photographs out there on Pompeii, of many different artifacts as well as the location itself. I wanted to pick photographs that best capture the event in a student friendly fashion. It was important to include the bread loaf that was fossilized by the ash because it is so relate-able to their lives. I could of simply front loaded a bunch of photographs of fossilized victims of Pompeii; however, I felt that this would just distract the students rather then help them understand the event. This could also have felt very de-contextualized.

If I had to do the DBL again I would like to find a few more documents of related to the event. I am happy with the photographs and video I have. That said, I feel that the for the lesson to be truly complete I would like a few more textual sources for students to go over and maybe contextualize between. I will continue to strive to build lesson that scaffold students knowledge and experience.

Image credit: Karl Brullov, The Last Day of Pompeii (1830-1833) at Google Cultural Institute
Briullov visited Pompeii in 1828 and made sketches depicting the AD 79 Vesuvius eruption. The painting received rapturous reviews at its exhibition in Rome and brought Briullov more acclaim than any other work during his lifetime. The first Russian artwork to cause such an interest abroad, it inspired an anthologic poem by Alexander Pushkin, and the novel The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. It depicts a classical topic but exhibits characteristics of Romanticism as manifested in Russian art, including drama, realism tempered with idealism, interest in nature, and a fondness for historical subjects. A self portrait is in the upper left corner of the painting, under the steeple, but not easy to identify.
 

Exploring History: 13 Document-Based Lessons

Exploring History IIII’m very pleased to share a new iBook just published by my Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland.

Interactive iBooks available free at iTunes.
Static pdf version Exploring History Vol III (29 MB)

It features thirteen engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. The units draw from a fascinating collection of text and multimedia content – documents, posters, photographs, audio, video, letter and other ephemera. “Stop-and-think” prompts based on CCSS skills guide students through analysis of the primary and secondary sources. Essential questions foster critical thinking. All documents include links back to the original source material so readers can remix the content into their own curated collections.

My students worked for a public audience on our class blog and and pursued our three class goals:

  • Learn to think like a historian.
  • Become a skillful Instructional designer
  • Develop technical skills for production, reflection, growth and professional networking.

The lesson design process began early in the semester when students designed lessons in historical thinking skills based on the work of Sam Wineburg and the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG). They focussed on three key skills – Sourcing, Contextualizing and Corroborating. Then students identified essential questions worth answering and gathered documents to explore the question in an extended lesson design process.

Exploring History: Vol III was our PBL capstone and is available on iTunes in 51 countries around the world. Here’s a post (from fall ’13 class) that describes our project workflow (including how we utilized iBooks Author). Here’s Exploring History: Vol I created by my fall 2013 class. And Exploring History: Vol II designed by my fall 2014 class.

I’ll be doing a future blog post that features each student’s DBQ, but for now here’s the US and World History lessons in chronological order:

  1. Finding Egyptian Needles in Western Haystacks 
by Heidi Kershner
  2. Pompeii by Caleb Wilson
  3. Samurai: Sources of Warrior Identity in Medieval Japan 
by Ben Heebner
  4. The Declaration of Independence by David Deis
  5. Reconstruction in Political Cartoons 
by EmmaLee Kuhlmann
  6. Regulation Through the Years 
by Chenoa Musillo Olson / Sarah Wieking
  7. Battle of the Somme by John Hunt
  8. The Lynching of Leo Frank by Jeff Smith
  9. The Waco Horror by Alekz Wray
  10. The Harlem Renaissance by Monica Portugal
  11. A Date of Infamy by Mollie Carter
  12. Anti-Vietnam War Imagery by Felicia Teba
  13. Examining the Ongoing Evolution of American Government by Eric Cole
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